Extremophiles and Ecosystems


Winter 2016 and Spring 2016 quarters

Taught by

biology, virology, molecular biology
freshwater ecology, quantitative biology, environmental education

Some organisms have adaptations that allow them to survive in extreme environments such as those with high temperatures, high salt concentrations, extreme cold, or without water. This program will focus on the biology, ecology, and physiology of microorganisms, fungi, plants, and animals which call extreme environments home. Specifically, we will be interested in the various behavioral, physiological, and morphological adaptations organisms have developed that allow them to live in places we would not expect to find life. In this program, we will undertake an exploration of extremophiles across the globe. We will explore organisms that dwell in deep sea vents, hot springs, polar regions, vast deserts, clouds, lava fields, caves, salt flats, and other extreme habitats. We will also explore the unique environments parasitic organisms inhabit and their interactions with host species. We will engage in the study of some of these environments with laboratory exercises and spring field trips to locations harboring these organisms.

We will pair our studies of extreme organisms with studies of climate instability and how humans will need to adapt to changing environmental conditions. We will engage in these topics through readings and other media. Seminar discussions of these readings along with readings in the primary literature will provide us with a deep understanding of the range of responses humans and other living things have to extreme environments. We will engage with topics in evolutionary biology and natural selection and discuss assisted migration and ecosystem restoration.

By taking this program, you will have an opportunity to earn all credits for a year of college-level General Biology. The program will also give you an introduction to basic skills including introductory statistics, experimental design, and math skills needed to solve problems in biology. Through this program, you will also have an opportunity to undertake group research projects and focused study in a related area, thereby developing important skills. These are skills that are useful broadly in the life sciences and will help you apply your hands-on experience to understanding morphological and physiological adaptations and designing scientific experiments.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

biology, ecology, microbiology, and environmental studies.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day

Advertised schedule: First spring class meeting: Monday, March 28 at 10am (Sem 2 E1107)


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

No Required Online Learning: No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional for students.

Required Fees

$400 in spring for a 10-day field trip.

Special Expenses

Approximately $250 for airfare or other transportation to Arizona.


Date Revision
February 12th, 2016 This program is not accepting new enrollment spring quarter.
October 22nd, 2015 $250 special expense added.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Winter); 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Freshmen ONLY ; 100% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 36


Course Reference Number

Fr (16 credits): 20105

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.


Enrollment Closed

Course Reference Number

Fr (16 credits): 30060

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.

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